Fall Happenings in Midway

Day 4 of my knee-surgery-induced incarceration. We shipped the kids off to Grandma’s for a fall break at Hogle Zoo, Dave & Busters, and Fear Factory. Fat Kitty was my greatest supporter, refusing to leave my side and desperately mewing when I spent a half hour in the bathroom. A shower made me felt like a new woman and while I still need to rehab the knee, I’m hopeful we’ve turned the corner and am so grateful for my health. Friends have cooked dinners and Jamie has been a champ, bringing me fresh ice every couple of hours and after a particularly sleepless night, I called down to tell him I was awake and he appeared in my doorway with a warm peach muffin. SCORE!

The weather has been gorgeous this week, which makes being stuck at home a real bummer but now that I’ve weaned myself off my opioids, now is as good of time as any to get caught up on my long-neglected blog! Here are a few happenings:

Uinta Recreation

Need to rent an ATV, snowmobile, motorhome or waverunner in the Heber Valley? Uinta Recreation is the place to go! Jamie has been doing some web work for this awesome company and worked out to have payment done in trade.  On General Conference Saturday, we joined our friends the Homers and Fotheringhams for a gorgeous adventure in Wasatch Mountain State Park. Our friend runs a boat/recreation dealership so gave us a taste of the hundreds of miles of off-road trails as we climbed rocky precipices, flung mud, forged through puddles, and gawked at the last of the golden leaves under a sulky sky. Bode (our forever voice of reason) only told us to slow down twice so I’m calling that a win. It was truly one of my favoritestestest experiences since we moved here!

First Snow

“Suck it up, Buttercup.” Those were my parting words to my friend Lori when she commented the weather for last week’s hike didn’t look so swell. As we were driving up Guardsman Pass, it started raining and then it was complete white-out at the summit and our trail was covered in snow. But my gosh, how breathtaking is this?

We drove down the road a few miles just as the sun started peeking out and were greeted with sheer mountain grandeur on our hike. And then we drove to Park City where I introduced Lori to the mountain grandeur that is “crack bread.” Here’s to not sucking, Buttercup.

 Mountain Mornings

Our first snowy winter in Midway was unmatched but fall and foggy mornings = my second favorite season.

Fall Soccer

Bode wrapped another fun season of playing rec soccer–averaging three goals per game–with Jamie as coach. We went undefeated until the final two games and it’s so fun to see these kids thrive! And see that “kid” next to Jamie in the back row? He’s in seventh grade, 6’4 and weighs 230 pounds. I’m sure the football coaches are salivating.

Bode has also been keeping busy with coding, piano and catalyst math, his advanced math class that crams seventh and eighth grade math into one year. He gives seventh grade a “5 out of 10″ but is chugging along in his typical Bode way. He and Jamie are going on their father-son overnighter to San Francisco next week as a reward for reading the Book of Mormon. I’m thrilled for him. He’s a kid who demands very little and is grateful for everything…it’s nice for him to get some well-deserved recognition.

Hikes

Though the colors haven’t been nearly as spectacular as last year (thanks to that big snow year), we’ve had the chance to enjoy some beautiful hikes. Jamie took me on a date to Park City where we dined at Handle (best steak I’ve had in Utah) and spent the night at the Chateau Deer Valley. Hiking at Park City Ski Area wasn’t the best due to really bad air quality from forest fires but any day spent with my man is a win! 

On one of my Fridays off, a few friends and I drove to Brighton where we hiked three lakes in one day: Lake Mary, Lake Catherine and Dog Lake.

Though high school has had considerably less drama for Hadley and she’s doing really well with all of her classes, it’s tough to see her fumbling through it all without any clear direction or solid friend group. The one good thing about getting cut from the volleyball team is she has turned back to art and spends a lot of time painting (she is taking a painting class this semester and pottery next semester). She still enjoys photography and I just wish I could find someone who could really teach her to do it. For now, she enjoys our casual outings. After she had been sick for a few weeks, she and I snuck away to Cascade Springs for for a much-needed reprieve. She’s a lot like me—when she is outdoors she relaxes, unwinds and heals.

Final Fall Fling

The Church owns several private properties so when the opportunity arose to go to Aspen Lakes for the evening, we joined several friends for a fun night of canoeing, paddleboarding, ziplining, and obstacle coursing.

All this, just 30 minutes from our house. That is what we call a fall win!

The glory of knee surgery!

I know, I still have yet to write about my summer updates but the big news ’round here is I had surgery to repair my meniscus I tore while trail running two years ago. With all of our medical bills this year, we almost reached our deductible so Jamie approached me about finally getting it done. I mean, 50% off knee surgery? What a bargain. If you count spending thousands of dollars on a temporary fix “a bargain” but if I can get some semblance of my life back, I’m all-in.

If you’re going to get your knee scoped, there is no better man than Dr. Cooley in Park City who is contracted with the U.S. Ski Team and Tiger Woods. I don’t remember much from my right knee surgery five years ago so wanted to detail all of the glorious details here.

1) Upon check-in, they requested a urine sample to ensure I was not pregnant. I told the nurse, “If I’m pregnant, I’ve got bigger problems than this knee.”

2) As I changed in my lovely hospital gown, Jamie and I overheard repeated staffers talk about a patient who neglected to leave his underwear on. Apparently flashing the staff during surgery is not optimal. I left mine on for kicks and giggles.

3)  The team at Park City Hospital was relatively quick and efficient. I checked in at 10:45 a.m. and was outta there by 2:30 p.m. Everyone was really funny and nice except for the anesthesiologist but when you’re the Drug Man, everyone loves you.

4) As he wheeled me into the operating room, I commented it was “Canadian cold” in there and I was out three seconds later. I suspect foul play.

5) When I woke up in post-op, I remember two things: shivering uncontrollably and discussing giant pumpkins and the upcoming pumpkin regatta. I was apparently delusional.

6) I have awesome friends who are continually checking in on me and bringing me tasty food.  Thank-you tasty friends! P.S. I’m still on drugs.

7) Percocet makes me wanna party all night long. It wasn’t really a tortuous all-nighter: I just laid there listening to Fat Kitty and Jamie synchronize their heavy breathing while I felt pretty buzzed. The doc suggested I switch to Tylenol so I can hopefully get some sleep tonight.

8) I have a nifty tube that connects to my knee from an ice machine. It doesn’t help the sleep situation but swelling (and pain) are subsiding much quicker than my last surgery. I wonder if they have an all-body cooling tube for menopause?

9) I had grandiose Fat Kitty snuggles & Netflix plans but I’m already bored. My new favorite pastime is ringing my cowbell for Caretaker Jamie; my megaphone somehow went missing.

10) Thanks to Grandma for taking the kids so they can have some semblance of a fall break. They’re planning to hit the Hogle Zoo, Dave & Busters and a haunted house, a step up from hanging out at this house of horrors all week.

Here’s to a quick recovery!

And the winner is….

…not Jamie.

With all of our landscaping, this has been a lackluster year for growing pumpkins but Jamie’s pumpkin “Uncle Sam,” was measuring to weigh 800 pounds. In pumpkin circles, this is just an estimate and pumpkins can drastically swing either way when they “go light” or “go heavy;” obviously the latter is the more desirable.

Uncle Sam went really light at 706 pounds and we took fifth place.

It’s one of Jamie’s lightest pumpkins ever but my gosh, can we take a moment and reflect this? He grew a gourd that weighs several hundred pounds!

The largest of the two weigh-offs was a couple of weeks ago at Thanksgiving Point but Hee Haw Farms puts on a great show last weekend as well. It’s too bad my kids have aged out of activities like petting zoos and silo slides because this farm has a lot of fall fun.

This year, my college bestie Lori got addicted to giant pumpkin growing. In fact, as the story goes, she was texting Jamie so much for pumpkin advice this summer that she sent him a message, “Hey, tell Amber I’m going to become a grandma tomorrow” and that is when I put a kibosh on her texting him more than ME. :-)

We had a great time hanging out and her family and her “Cinderella” pumpkin weighed in at 579 pounds. Pretty impressive for a first-timer.

But really, the most impressive of all was that we were big-time winners at the pumpkin drop. We’ve seen them before. Raise pumpkin high above the earth in a crane, watch it drop and spew pumpkin guts everywhere, sometimes even hitting you. But this year, FM 100.3 did something fun: they numbered several ping pong balls, put them in the pumpkin and after the pumpkin was dropped, you race over and if you find a ball with a number, you can claim a prize.

I saw a lot of their swag and wasn’t too interested until someone mentioned they were giving away a trip. Say what?

They kids did it first. Hadley emerged quickly with a numbered ping-pong ball.

“How many kids did you to knock out of the way to get that?” I asked.

“Only a few,” she sheepishly responded. Do I know my girl or what?

Bode came back with a bunch of balls but no number…but a nice girl gave him one of hers.

And what did they win? Bode won a baseball cap and Hadley walked away with a $25 gift card to Dave & Busters.

Then it was the adult division. Jamie was no where to be found so I was on my own. With my crap knee, I didn’t have speed on my side to repositioned myself to the area closest to where the pumpkin dropped, turned my back away when it landed in case a projectile came hurling at me and like a race horse at the starting gate, anticipated the exact moment they said “go,” (OK, maybe I cheated and went a few seconds early). But the adrenaline was pumping and I was in my competitive element.

Bode gave me a sound strategy to skip all the outlier guts and balls and go straight to the middle. It was sound advice. I immediately spotted two numbered ping-ball balls, snagged them and raced over to claim victory: VIP passes to Fear Factory’s house of horrors that Hadley elatedly snatched up and my other prize was a backpack with headphones, a shirt and mug that Bode quickly claimed. Talk about a win!

But back to the pumpkins. While we were waiting for Jamie’s to be weighed, I asked him:

“Hey Jamie, what are the weights of the pumpkins you’ve grown?”

He proceeds to recite every single one.

“Hey Jamie, how much did your children weigh when they were born?

Blank stare.

My work here is done. Or just beginning.

 

The 11th Annual Pumpkin Party

Have we really been doing this for 11 years?

It has been a lackluster growing season for Jamie so I haven’t posted too many updates. He and Bode both lost their plants a couple of months ago so that left one still standing. With all of our backbreaking work landscaping our yard, Jamie didn’t really dedicate a lot of time to his craft (if I ever move again, I will make sure to had an irrigation budget built in because it’s a nightmare). Plus, he has been working a lot on building his greenhouse and it is still not completed.

The good news is after two years of living here, we FINALLY have grass, as opposed to dirt and mud for last year’s soiree. There is still a lot of work to be done in the yard but baby steps, friends.

There are two pumpkin weigh-offs in Utah and since Jamie was down to only one plant, he wanted to participate in the latter weight-off to give him an extra two weeks to grow.

I wasn’t very thrilled about doing the party two weeks later than usual because fall (and particularly October) can have finicky weather. The entire week leading up to the party was rainy and cold with snow in the mountains. Luckily for Jamie, the day of the party was a brisk and beautiful 60 degrees…but still super chilly at night.

We introduced a few new things to the festivities. I have asked Jamie to build me a firepit FOR YEARS. Heck, one Mother’s Day I even bought a cheap grill and asked him to build me a stone pit around it and he still didn’t do it. Well, that day has finally come and dare I say the firepit was one of the most popular items at the party? Equally as awesome is I asked Jamie’s insanely talented sister Tammy to do a s’mores bar and she delivered in her delightfully over-the-top way.

 

Of course, the pumpkin potluck was in full force. The Utah people are slowly catching on to this and there was a delicious array of pumpkin/treats but I’m still missing all of the uber creative pumpkin concoctions our Colorado friends would make. I also added two Crockpots of soup to the mix and we still ran out. Better luck next year!

As for the main event, our friend Aaron drove the forklift and there was a new level of difficulty added to the pumpkin removal…the door to the greenhouse wasn’t tall enough. So, after all of the pomp and circumstance of the vine cutting, adjusting the lifting straps around the pumpkin, lifting and starting to remove it, they had to put the pumpkin back in its place and adjust the lifting straps to be shorter so they could remove it from the greenhouse.

By that time, everyone had moved on to the food. Because you only get one chance to remove the pumpkin from the patch.

Another new element was pumpkin smashing. As aforementioned, Jamie and Bode lost their other plants early in the season. What I didn’t mention is they didn’t bother to do the upkeep on the patch after that so guess who got to remove all of the knee-high weeds a couple of weeks ago? YOURS TRULY, the one person who doesn’t even grow. And because the boys didn’t tend to their patch, there were a lot of little pumpkins growing off the vines that were now rotting. I threw many of the smaller ones over the fence for the deer to eat but I wouldn’t touch the larger decaying ones.

The day before the party, Jamie had an idea. Either he could break those pumpkins down and chuck them OR we could have pumpkin pinatas and let the kids go crazy with a baseball bat. What could be more glorious that rotting pumpkin guts spewing everywhere?

It was a hit. And fortunately no one got hit with a baseball bat.

I wasn’t informed they had started but noticed a small group of kids forming around those pumpkins.

“It there an adult supervising?” I asked.

I was assured there was.

“Is there a FEMALE adult supervising?” I followed-up because, as we all know, sometimes men aren’t the most cautious in these instances.

The kids were able to pulverize the small pumpkins but couldn’t even put a dent in the larger one.

Better luck next year and I definitely think pumpkin smashing, gourmet s’mores and the firepit will be welcome new additions to next year’s festivities

And now, off to the weigh-off!

A Great Week for Bode

Today was a good day.

Not because I weeded the yard for hours (definitely not that). Nor the 8 loads of laundry and the washing machine that is on the verge of death (I’m thankful for every successful wash). Nor the fact that I subbed for Jamie as coach of Bode’s soccer team and Bode scored FOUR GOALS! (Final score was 10-1).

It’s because Bode went to the LDS temple for the first time today!

When our youth turn 12, they are permitted to do limited ordinances in the temple and this was Bode’s first opportunity to go. Our ward has this crazy tradition of attending at 5:30 a.m. and I don’t know about you, but getting teenagers out of bed before the crack of dawn is NOT easy. Thankfully, they started switching off the times every month between early-morning and evening session (I would like to think this squeaky wheel is somewhat responsible for the change).  Today, they were supposed to go at 5:30 p.m. but at the last minute turned it back to the a.m. UGGGGGH.

Our beloved Bishop Sorenson is getting released tomorrow so he invited as many youth as were able to attend….and we had over 33, which was a testament to how much we love this dear man. Leading the charge was Hadley, whom I had to promise THE MOON to get her out of bed (that included a pumpkin steamer from Starbucks, no Saturday chores and her phone returned).

But most important of all: I wanted both of my kids to be there for Bode’s first time going through.

He was a bit nervous but really enjoyed being with all of his friends in that sacred place–it’s tough NOT to feel the spirit! We had to leave earlier than the main group to drive back to Midway because of his soccer game but I asked if I could take a picture of him. True to [awkward] form, he sweetly said yes, “BUT ONLY ONE.”

The main group:

Earlier this week, Bode finished reading the Book of Mormon and wants to read the Doctrine & Covenants in its entirety. On the drive home from the temple, I casually mentioned it in the car and the Young Men’s president asked Bode if he would feel comfortable briefly talking about it the next day. He reluctantly agreed; he really doesn’t like a lot of recognition for things like this and that is exactly why Jamie and I decided that if/when each of our kids finished reading The Book of Mormon, we would take them on a fun weekend trip somewhere. We’re currently watching for cheap flights to San Francisco or somewhere nearby for the boys.

Every night before bed, I can see Bode’s nightlight on as he reads and softly plays the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Today, he confided in me that he likes to listen to the choir’s signature “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” before he turns out the lights every night.

“And a little child shall lead them.”

That boy sure has a lot of goodness to give.

Connections magazine: My first stint as editor

Last week was a complete whirlwind for me. It was Fall Conference at BYU, which is like back-to-school week for faculty and staff (students started school the day after Labor Day). I didn’t have any huge responsibilities but I did have to work long hours helping with our college breakfast and Fall Meeting. In the midst of it all, I hired a new student and was relieved our alumni magazine was printed in time for all our staff to receive them in their packets.

My job has a lot of different facets to it and when I was hired, I was most excited to be the editor our alumni magazine…until I saw last year’s edition of Connections. The articles were long, dry, and scholarly with more footnotes than I ever attributed during my entire time as a student. I hate writing research papers and I truly wondered how I would get through it!

Fortunately, the assistant dean was open to my suggestion of having it be less meaty and more informational, inspirational and even humorous in places (I introduced a fun section called “Elevator Eavesdropping” where we published funny conversations we overheard in the elevator of our 12-story building such as this one from the dean:

After pushing the sixth-floor elevator button for a student.

Dean Ogles: So, are you headed to the Geography Department?
Student: Yes. What’s on the ninth floor?
Dean Ogles: The dean’s office.
Student: Are you in trouble?
Dean Ogles: No, I’m the dean.
Student: That’s awkward.

All was going smashingly until we realized a select few of the hundreds we printed had a few blank pages so it was super fun to spend one afternoon at Mail Services to go through every. Single. Copy.

We found four that had the error and I’m still unsure how many faculty received the “golden ticket” magazines but as luck would have it, one of the professors who was featured received one of them…and it was his story that was omitted.

My print and publications contact was dumbfounded. “We’ve never had any thing like this happen before.”

Welcome to my world, BYU.

Swiss Days 2018: Survived!

I had heard of Midway’s annual Swiss Days celebration when I lived in Salt Lake City after graduating from BYU and was intrigued because I served a mission en Suisse but never attended. Little did I know it would become such a huge part of my life.

This is the second year Jamie and I have been booth managers for the largest food booth at the festival: The Swiss Tacos. Last year was our apprentice year, this year, we were in charge and next year, we will be the consulting couple. And then after that, we will be able to enjoy Swiss Day in much smaller stints. All the meetings leading up to it, the week of set-up and then two 14-hour days are enough to do anyone in.

But overall, we loved it! Well, the kids and I love it; Jamie only kinda tolerates it. Large crowds and chaos aren’t really his thing. They’re not mine either but this year, I caught a glimpse of why Swiss Days is so beloved as I saw an entire town come together and many generations reunite to volunteer because it is tradition.

When I was 12, I started working at my mom’s restaurant and I love seeing my family work in the booth….

Hadley was awesome slinging dough while Bode was a great “runner” and threw the dough in the sizzling oil vats

Booth manager extraordinaire

Our youth were assigned to garbage duty and had a great time hanging off the kubotas….

How I love the Swiss Days Parade! To be clear, I hate big-city parades with their fancy floats and lack of candy. I grew up attending the Canada Day parade in Raymond and loved the small-town feel with friends and neighbors. This year, the kids tossed out candy for our friend Mimi’s “float,” Love 4 Mia in honor or her sweet daughter who passed away. They’re all about giving back to the community and it was an honor to be a part of it.

Polly and Hadley leading the charge

It was fun to see our neighbor’s Thai exchange student throwing out candy with Bode and the kids

Some other things I want to remember:

  • 80-year-old Clarence insisting upon being the tomato slicer each morning. He was elbow-deep in tomato guts when I asked if he wanted an apron and I got roped into tying it on him..and giving him a back rub.
  • The Swiss Days Committee asked if they could bring some volunteers from the Half-way House to our booth. They were really hard workers and I’m so grateful for how loving and accepting the other volunteers were of them.
  • Clean-up duty on Monday is pretty thankless except for all of the leftover treats and drinks. There was a huuuuge spread this year.
  • On Sunday, the owners of Dairy Keen opened up their restaurant for the booth managers and other key volunteers for a private dinner. It’s super fun to have a behind-the-scenes glimpse and to have so many people pitching in to take orders and cook up the food. Peach cobbler shakes for the win!

What a gift it is to be part of a small town that exudes charm and true community…and I’m glad I have an entire year to recover from it all.

Back-to-school shopping drama

As I was writing my previous blog post about the first day of seventh and ninth grades (and somehow MISSING the-hell-that-is-back-to-school-shopping), I took pause and remembered THIS. Enjoy!

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If there is one thing I despise about back-to-school, it’s the shopping.

Now, let me be upfront here: If it isn’t Costco or Target and ends in ________ mall, I generally have to be dragged in kicking and screaming. For this reason, I left my kids’ school supply shopping until just a few days prior to the advent of school last year.

Here’s a little tip to the procrastinators out there: you will not win. The supplies will be depleted and you will have to go to several different stores instead of just one, augmenting an already stressful situation.

Note: if you somehow find school supply shopping cathartic, I will be happy expound upon the aberration of college-lined vs. wide-lined notebooks and my goose chase to find Elmer’s Glue-all and NOT their School Glue (which is 99 percent of what the store carried) while battling a battalion of frenzied moms.

This year, I recruited a reinforcement and brought my husband Jamie. I handed him the much-shorter list for my kindergartner (about 12 items) while I tackled my 7-year-old daughter’s list (my sheet included the other grades’ items as well).

Things shockingly went smoothly until they didn’t.

Isn’t that how it always has to happen?….

We both finished in under 30 minutes and were on the way to the check-out when I looked down at my sheet, stopped and morosely declared “OHHH NOOOOO.”

As it turns out, I had collected everything a first grader needs for academic success but here’s the catch: my daughter was in first grade last year and is going into second grade. Who knew?

Evidently not her own mother.

The lists are, of course, completely different and so I trudged back to the school supply section, dumped my previous findings and started from scratch. I was glad my husband had at least figured it out.

Or so I thought.

When we reunited, he started questioning the veracity of the list.

“A clipboard? Why on earth would a kindergartener need a clipboard with his name on it?”

I tried to explain a few scenarios but he then threatened to boycott some other items as well.

“Jamie, if it’s on the list, we have to buy it. It’s like the commandments–you can’t pick-and-choose which ones to follow.”

He seemed to get it and grumpily purchased the good-for-nothing clipboard. When we arrived home, I started labeling the items with my children’s names and double-checked to ensure we bought everything.

He didn’t.

“Jamie, where are the 10 glue sticks?”
“We have a ton of glue sticks.”
“No, we don’t.”

In his defense, I could have appeared on an episode of Hoarders for my glue-stick fetish but that was a few years ago and rehab taught me only three glue sticks per household was necessary.

“What about snack-sized Ziploc bags, Jamie?”
“We have those as well.”
“We only have quart- and gallon-sized.”
“Same thing.”

And then came the colored pencils, which he also neglected to purchase. His defense?

“That was not on the list.”

“It was item No. 1.”

{Silence. Chirping crickets.}

Tomorrow, I’ll be returning to the store.

And next year, the back-to-school supply shopping battle will be waged alone.

Back-to-school: 7th and 9th grades!

Sure, I still have oodles of updates from our fun summer but back-to-school photos are a tradition! Today, Bode became a seventh grader and Hadley started her freshman year of high school. Jamie gave both kids father’s priesthood blessings last night and he blessed Bode with the capacity to learn, make new friends and be a blessing to those about him through the priesthood. Hadley was blessed to be a light and example to her friends, to expand her knowledge and many other great things!

Hadley: I can’t believe she’s a freshman in high school! Her sad news is she was cut from the volleyball team, despite being a solid setter (her best friend told her it was a height issue). We’re hoping she can find something else she loves…while continuing to play volleyball. She has a pretty fun course-work this year: lots of great electives like pottery and painting, and we enrolled her in a “Student Success” class designed to keep struggling students (or those with ADD like Hadley) on-task with their assignments. Today was freshman orientation and in the afternoon, they had a condensed bell schedule where they visited all eight classes for ‘gold’ and ‘black’ days. Or at least they were supposed to. Hadley sheepishly told us they didn’t hear the bell ring during her second period and they talked through her next few classes before realizing they were supposed to move on…only to go to what she thought was her third period and she was two class periods behind. The irony? The class that caused the upset was her “Student Success” class.

My fingers are crossed that she’ll continue to reconnect with her love for art that she abandoned after we moved here (I mean, the girl WON the school’s art show last year). We’re moderately hopeful we’ll have a better year than the last (yes, it really was that bad) but we had a great summer with her and caught glimpses of the just how wonderful she can be.

 

Bode: He was all business for back-to-school night last night. He mapped out his classes, and was straight-forward and direct with his teachers. He is switching fromthe flute to the sax, playing rec soccer and the piano and taking coding this fall. He has a tough course load and is not looking forward to having regular homework for the first time (he has somehow avoided it up until this point). He qualified for “Catalyst” math, which is a step up from honors were only a select group of kids are enrolled and they learn two years of math in just one year. He was reluctant to to do it. He knows he’s great at math and was a peer tutor last year but his hesitation revolves around enjoying being the smartest in the class…and how do you shine when the whole class is full of math whizzes? He’s going to find out this year! Bode is naturally smart but is also nervous about pushing himself…with a touch of laziness. His job was to the mow the lawn this summer and I commented he should start a lawn-mowing business and he replied, “Naw, I don’t want to cut into my friends’ lawn businesses.” How very considerate of him.

Jamie enjoyed having a quiet house once again while I was in mourning for two reasons:

1) Usually on the kids’ first day back at school, I do something fun like go on a hike or lunch. It was a serious bummer to have to drive that 1.5-hour commute and then work.  Blah. Someday I’ll figure out a way to work from home again or find something that actually pays more than $15/hour in the Heber Valley (there aren’t many).

2) The kids are getting older. The school provides laptops for them so school supplies are minimal. Pencil. Notebook. Organizer. I didn’t realize I was in mourning until I passed the anarchy-that-is-the-back-to-school aisle and wistfully thought, “I no longer need to buy them crayons.”

My, how times have changed.

Aaronic Priesthhood and the Errands of Angels

August 5, 2018 was a special day for our family: Bode received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of Deacon, and my brother, Pat, turned 50! Talk about a memorable day for both of them.

In the Church today, worthy male members may receive the Aaronic Priesthood beginning at age 12. These young men, typically ages 12–17, receive many opportunities to participate in sacred priesthood ordinances and give service. As they worthily fulfill their duties, they act in the name of the Lord to help others receive the blessings of the gospel. -lds.org

Things I want to remember:

Last night was the worst thunder and lightening storm we’ve had since we moved to Utah. The power went out around 10 p.m. and we went to bed in complete darkness. The next morning when I walked into the living room, Bode had stumbled out of bed and fallen back asleep on the couch. The whole room was full of light…and I was so filled with love and appreciation for my sweet boy and the man he is becoming. 

After four non-stop weeks of activity (Trek, Canada and volleyball camp), Hadley had an exhaustion-fueled meltdown that escalated to a full-blown panic attack on Friday, the worst she has ever had. Jamie and I shifted gears from frustration and anger when we tried to get her to leave for a long-planned cabin getaway with friends that afternoon to honestly being at a loss of how to help her calm down..and fear. Bode knew. Jamie was in his office and Bode came in. “I think we should pray for Hadley, Dad.” And so they did. He has always been very sensitive tothe spirit and looks for ways to bring calm and peace to our family. Always.

The boy does not like to be the center of attention so it was torturous for him when I told Hadley to do a little photo shoot before church but she got a few great pictures of our boy.

Our Bishopric member called him up in front of the congregation to congratulate him for moving on from Primary (the children’s organization), completing his Faith in God and to announce he would be ordained a Deacon that afternoon (which elicited a quiet cheer from his buddies at the Sacrament table).  The youth are usually asked at that time to share their favorite Article of Faith and/or short testimony and Bode was well-prepared…and was a bit relieved when Bother Price forgot to have him talk. He dodged at least one bullet that day!

 

Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, Aunts Lisa and Tammy, Uncle Jeremy and cousins Ada, Berkley and Darby all came to see him ordained to the priesthood that afternoon, a sacred ordinance performed by his dad in a circle of love, fellowship and priesthood holders. It was a special, sacred moment.

We gathered after church to celebrate Bode’s birthday with smoked brisket, corn on the cob, watermelon, two kinds of homemade French fries, topped off by Bode’s favorite dessert: strawberry cheesecake.

How grateful we are to have this strong, smart and spiritual boy to help lead the way in our family.

—–

I loved this story that I read to Bode when we were staying at my mom’s cousin’s house in Canada. The following is excerpted from President Thomas S. Monson’s biography, To the Rescue, our former prophet who recently passed away. There are two priesthoods: the lower (Aaronic Priesthood) which is what Bode received and the higher priesthood (Melchizedek). This is a beautiful story about the importance and gifts of the Aaronic Priesthood. 

Before Tom left for basic training, his bishop recommended that he receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Tom phoned his stake president, Paul C. Child, to set up an interview. President Child was known for his love and deep understanding of the scriptures. He was also known for his searching, detailed probing of the scriptures with those he interviewed. So when Tom called for an appointment, he was reasonably nervous.

“Fine, Brother Monson. When can you see me?” President Child replied.

Knowing that President Child’s sacrament meeting was at six o’clock, Tom suggested five o’clock, hoping that the interview would be brief.

“Oh, Brother Monson, that would not provide us sufficient time to peruse the scriptures,” said President Child. “Could you please come at two o’clock and bring with you your personally marked and referenced set of scriptures.”

When Sunday arrived, Tom appeared at President Child’s home on Indiana Avenue at the appointed hour. He was “greeted warmly, and then the interview began.”

“No, President Child.”

“Do you know,” said the president, “that you are entitled to such?”

Again Tom said, “No.”

Then President Child requested, “Brother Monson, repeat from memory Doctrine and Covenants section 13, which tells of the ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood.”

“Stop,” President Child directed. Then in a calm, kindly tone he counseled, “Brother Monson, never forget that as a holder of the Aaronic Priesthood you are entitled to the ministering of angels.” He then asked Tom to recite section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day . . .”

Tom never forgot the spirit he felt in President Child’s home. It was “almost as if an angel were in the room.” And the message of the fourth section he had recited would become more than words revealed in 1830—those words would become a standard for him in his service to the Lord. . . .